Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave essay

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The book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave” is an autobiography that talks about human civil rights. The narrative is a real life story of the writer, and it was published in 1845 after the writer had managed to escape from slavery. Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland, where the story of the narrative begins. The book is written in simple English, and it was endorsed by several white men; a proof that its content was true. The book mainly talks about slavery and how blacks were enslaved in the USA. The book is set in the 1880s and is mainly about the writer’s life as a slave. The writer narrates how he was born in slavery and raised up in it. He also talks about the dehumanizing treatment that slaves had to go through and finally how he escaped slavery. The book was vital in the slave abolition movement as it captured the dehumanizing treatment of slaves. It was also a good platform for the writer to verbalize the inhuman treatment of slavery. This paper will focus on how Frederick Douglass reacted to his enslavement, significance of his rebellion and his attempts to escape the harsh institution of slavery.

Frederick reacted to his enslavement displeasingly and disapprovingly. He did not in any way enjoy or like being enslaved. For instance, he starts by mentioning that he was born in slavery, and he did not even know his birth date or his father’s; a fact that he did not like. He was also separated from his mother at a tender age before he could know her well. He goes ahead to describe the horrible life he lived as a kid. They did not have good bedding or good clothing. They also got food rations and, therefore, hunger was the order of the day. At a tender age, he was able to witness the brutal beatings of slaves by their white masters, for instance when he saw Aunt Hester being beaten up. When he is around seven years old, he is moved to another owner in Baltimore. He tries learning how to read, but his master would not allow him because a learned nigger is considered to be stubborn. The whites did not in any way allow blacks to be knowledgeable. In a few instances Frederick also acted against his masters and at one point was even imprisoned. For instance, in Covey’s farm, after much persecution and beating, he fights his master back. This was to show displeasure in the treatment he was being taken through. On another instance, he also tries to escape with other slaves, but they do not manage, and he is taken to jail for two years. His escape means to run away from the inhuman treatment he gets. While working at the shipyard, he is also attacked by some white men who nearly take off his left eye. These situations show how much the blacks were mistreated and suffered from the hands of the white men. Such treatments are inhuman and displeasing (Douglass, 1845).

Frederick’s rebellion against the enslavement of black people had a great significance in freeing them from slavery. His rebellion first helped him to free himself from slavery, and by this, he was able to become vocal about slavery and fight for its abolition. His first instance of rebellion was seeking reading lessons. The blacks were not allowed to learn how to read, or write as they would become stubborn to their masters. When he learned the importance of reading, it gave him thirst to learn more. He was also able to teach other blacks how to read and write. On another occasion, he tried to run with other slaves, but could not make it because they got caught. His constant rebellion gave him more confidence to face the whites and more hope of escaping slavery. When he finally managed to escape slavery, he moved to Massachusetts where he settled down and joined an anti-slave movement. He gave speeches and was also involved in pleading for the end of slavery. Thus, it is quite evident that his rebellion was heading a course, and that was to end slavery. His rebellion also gave him a purpose to fight for, and that was to end slavery, as well (Douglass, 1845).

On a number of incidences, Frederick Douglass attempts to escape the harsh institution of slavery. For instance, he teaches himself how to read and write so that he can be literate and free himself from the white man’s bondage. In Covey’s farm, he was displeased by the harsh and dehumanizing treatment he got; being whipped and bruised frequently. In a certain instance, he fights Covey after the much mistreatment. He even goes back to his master to complain of the mistreatment and request for a transfer. He describes this incidence as “it recalled the departed self-confidence and inspired me again with a determination to be free”. From Covey’s, he is taken to another farm. While there, he makes friends with other slaves and also teaches them. They plan on escaping, but they are caught and he is later put to serve a jail term of two years. Later on, he is employed as a caulker and given wages. The money he gets is all given to his master. He gets a job of his own, and it is here that he is able to save enough money for his escape. He manages to escape, though he keeps it a secret how he escaped. It is quite a journey for Frederick as a slave fighting for his freedom. However, his attempts were fruitful as he finally managed to escape. His attempts were, therefore, worthwhile (Matlack, 1999).

In conclusion, the narrative by Frederick presents a deep insight into life of slavery. The author employs personal experience in tackling relevant subject matter in the book as well as marking memorable aspects in history of American society. Therefore, Douglas reacted to his slavery by displeasure and showing a huge sense of disapproval of everything slaves were exposed to. His rebellion was significant since it became the gateway to his freedom and it enabled him to verbalize his inner feelings.

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